BACK HOME AND LOBOS WIN
Gonzales disappointed in special teams, ground game
In their first game played in Albuquerque since Nov. 30, 2019, the UNM Lobos beat Houston Baptist in front of an announced crowd of 15,908.
The last time the University of New Mexico had a home football game, fans left early and the few who stayed were embarrassed with a showing of about 1,200 in attendance that ended the Bob Davie era.
The return of college football in Albuquerque was much different Thursday night, but still left many UNM die-hards wanting more ... more people in the stands, more big plays on offense (especially in the second half) and more aggression than what was shown in the Lobos’ 27-17 victory over Houston Baptist in their home opener.
Houston Baptist, which received $385,000 from UNM for playing the game, fell to 0-9 against FBS teams.
It was UNM’s first home game in 642 days, and it was the debut of coach Danny Gonzales at University Stadium. That was delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic that forced the Lobos to play all of their games out of state during the 2020 season because of the public health order.
This game was originally scheduled for Saturday, but Gonzales was instrumental in moving the game to Thursday with the hopes that more people would show up before attending other activities during Labor Day weekend. It resulted in an announced crowd of 15,908 to watch the Lobos start out hot, causing a turnover and building a 14-0 lead.
But the Lobos hardly showed that fire the rest of the game and could not maintain their momenutum. They needed their defense to bail them out and secure a win that was far from what being a 19-point favorite implied. Late in the fourth quarter, senior linebacker Devin Sanders recovered a fumble near his sideline after a failed option pitch that gave UNM the ball at the Husky 27.
Andrew Shelley made a 37-yard field goal for the 10-point cushion.
“We want things to be easy, and that’s not the right mentality,” Gonzales said. “We can’t relax. When we have the opportunity to step on somebody’s throat we need to. That’s the difference in learning that having the habit of losing and trying to change that. There is a great habit of losing around here.”
UNM did earn its third straight win. It’s the longest win streak for the Lobos since the two games to end 2016 and the opener of 2017.
Gonzales said he got mad at his team after celebrating wildly when the Lobos beat Wyoming last year to end a 14-game losing streak and a 20-game Mountain West Conference skid. He was turned off by the Lobos’ reaction after their win on Thursday.
“I was disappointed in them when we started singing the fight song and it was very som
ber,” Gonzales said. “We stopped them, and talked to them about doing it right.”
Gonzales was appreciative of the fans who showed up on a Thursday night. Fans began arriving around noon to tailgate. They adjusted to new mobile ticketing, cashless parking and a clear-bag policy that were all enacted with regard to safety and for efficiency. There were delays at times at the parking lots, but nothing major. It will take time for everyone to adjust.
That’s similar to the UNM football team, which needs time to improve and meet the potential that Gonzales wants.
Quarterback Terry Wilson, the Kentucky transfer, finished 20-for-26 for 174 yards and three touchdowns, including a 47-yard TD pass to freshman Keyonta Lanier. Gonzales thought his new QB missed some throws. And, if
Wilson was fully healthy, he most likely would have scored on his 56-yard run when he was forced out of bounds, Gonzales said.
Apparently, Wilson tweaked his left ankle during the team’s walkthrough Thursday morning. Wilson said it did not affect his play.
Gonzales was mostly disappointed with the Lobos’ special teams and the lack of production from the run game.
Houston Baptist punter Brady Buell was a difference maker with four punts inside the Lobos’ 20, including a punt that pinned UNM at its 1 and another at its 2.
Early in the second quarter, HBU’s Tyson Thompson took back a low punt for a 44-yard touchdown to make it 14-7.
UNM freshman running back Aaron Dumas ran for 57 yards on 15 carries and played the majority of the second half when senior Bobby Cole was out because he was nursing a right ankle issue and proved ineffective, Gonzales
Luke Wysong, a freshman from Cleveland High School, led UNM with six catches for 48 yards. He was the state’s high school player
of the year last season.
Houston Baptist 0 10 0 7 — 17
New Mexico 14 7 3 3 — 27
UNM—Jarvis 11 pass from T.Wilson (Steinkamp kick), 12:50. UNM—Bruckler 4 pass from